Disappointment With Apple’s Drive Replacement Program

MacBook Air Flash Drive - Thumbnail ImageLast August, when the flash drive died in a 2012 MacBook Air, I figured that I should replace it myself. Unfortunately, the Apple warranty had just expired — but this was a chance to expand the flash drive from 64 GB to 128 GB. The repair / upgrade set me back about $200 for parts. I did it myself. I considered the issue resolved, but then I read about Apple’s MacBook Air Flash Storage Drive Replacement Program. Apparently, this wasn’t just some random issue. It also looked like Apple was giving refunds. Would I be getting cash back from Apple?

Repairing or upgrading Apple hardware is becoming more difficult. This is especially true with the 2012 MacBook Air. The RAM is hardwired to the motherboard and special screwdrivers are needed to even open the case. The MacBook Air isn’t really designed for messing with the hardware. One of the few parts that can be customized is the Flash Drive.

There’s this idea that floats around in society — It’s better to do something for yourself. I was kinda happy that I could get my hands dirty. (Although, the inside of the MacBook Air was rather clean. It wasn’t collecting dust like my old PC towers.) Since I switched my main computer over to Mac, I haven’t been able to mess with computer hardware as much. I was excited about doing the repair.

The excitement was tempered with disappointment. This is an expense! I wasn’t happy about spending around $200 for a 128 GB flash drive. OWC was pretty cool though. They included the special screwdrivers and an external case for the Flash Drive. This would allow me to reuse the flash drive as an external USB device. The joy of upgrading the MacBook Air was also offset by confusion. I was puzzled as to how a flash drive could just drop dead in little more than a year. The computer was still newish.

It was an anxious moment in time, as I wasn’t even sure if the new flash drive would fix the computer. But soon after the new component was in place, I was able to get the MacBook Air working again. Problem solved, right?

Today, I learned about Apple’s MacBook Air Flash Storage Drive Replacement Program. It stated something interesting…

If you believe you have paid for a repair or replacement due to this issue, contact Apple regarding a refund.

Would this lead to a check from Apple? I didn’t know, so the next step was to try the “contact” link.

The process was rather disappointing. The website lead to a phone call from Apple, which lead to three different techs that couldn’t resolve the issue. Instead, I was directed to a different phone number. After talking to another two people, it seems that Apple would not be paying for the repair. The reason: I did the repair myself.

It didn’t matter to Apple that I had an invoice for the replacement hardware. Because the repair wasn’t done by Apple, or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, it didn’t count for a refund. I didn’t get angry, but that seemed like lousy customer service to me. There’s a known issue, where other people are likely to receive refunds, but not for this MacBook Air. They didn’t even offer an iTunes gift card. $100 off the new iPad 5 would have been nice too. But now, I’m not sure if I should buy any other Apple products.

A MacBook Air is not cheap! As comparison, I bought a Windows laptop two years ago for about $320 — and it’s still running great. The $1100 MacBook Air had more trouble. I was under the impression that Apple had better hardware and better customer support. The problems with the 2012 MacBook Air has me questioning that notion.

I suggested to Apple that they update their website. They should clearly specify the refund process, as other customers might not be as tolerant. The contact link should have been more specific. Also, if Apple is going to do a recall (as this seems like a recall to me) in the future, the support staff should be fully trained before the official announcement. It seemed like I caught the support team by surprise. If Apple is serious about improving customer support, they should better support their support team and genuinely help customers when Apple products fail.

It seems like there’s a known issue with the 2012 MacBook Air. Because I fixed the problem myself, I lost money.

6 thoughts on “Disappointment With Apple’s Drive Replacement Program”

  1. I agree, Apple needs to improve their service. For a company that harps on building their products around how they want people to feel when using them, they should improve their services if only to remain consistent in offering a “good feeling”. I admit apple products are a very popular buy, with their extreme brand recognition and huge following, but if they offered amazing costumer service I think they could do even better. For some contrast, do a little digging into Leatherman’s customer service. They make the best multitools on the market, (iPhones can be considered digital mutitools if you want to see a connection) and they back them up. If you order one, and it gets lost in the mail, you will be shipped a new one no questions asked. If you damage one, ship it back for a brand new one. They sell a bit kit for $20 but I only wanted one bit. I asked Leatherman politely in an email and they mailed it to me absolutely free. (Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with them in any way.) If Apple could give better service I would happily buy many more of their products, but as of now, i am fine with just my iPhone 5 and Macbook air 2013 (lol). I have certainly had issues with QC in their products in the past, which could also be fixed. Unfortunately, since no company offers everything, us consumers must compromise, which still leaves Apple ahead, due to their focus on what matters most. I suppose though, if they became masters of everything, all other consumer oriented tech companies would go out of business and we would be left in a boring world. Well, that was longer than it should have been.

    TL:DR Go back and read it. This comment will receive little enough traffic that I might as well not have spent the time it took to type this out if nobody reads it (no offense Photics, I love your site but I do notice that I am the only other person to post on it).

    1. I read the reply and I thought it was a nice post. :lol:

      I’m not sure why people stopped posting comments. Although, the main part of the traffic to this website is through search engines. Usually they’re researching “GameSalad vs. Stencyl”, looking for my textbook or they’re looking for something related to Android programming. They get their answers and they leave.

      It’s a hassle to manage logins. So, maybe people forgot their password/login.

      There used to be a lot of traffic to this website when it was more about playing video games than making video games. Heh, development is hard.

      Apple is kinda the best of the worst. Microsoft seems to have lost their edge and I’m still mad at Google. They’re part of the reason for the traffic problem. In March 2009, traffic was starting to surge because of the game “Photics: Conquest”. In one month approximately 200,000 visitors visited this website. But when there’s no revenue being generated from the visits, it’s hard to maintain that traffic.

      I switched to making apps and books. It’s not as chatty, but it’s been more successful for me. Apple actually helped in that success. They featured my book three times. That’s why I’m not so angry with them. My thinking is that they should fix these problems so they can keep being awesome.

      So, I wrote an email to Tim Cook. I got a response from Corporate Executive Relations. We’re playing phone tag at the moment.

  2. So, are you going to post about Mavericks? Heck, I could do a post about the whole October 22nd event if you’ll let me.

    1. I’m planning to make a post. I’ve been busy with updates, but it seems like a very good day for Apple. I even heard back from Corporate Executive Relations.

  3. Going to summarize for the meantime then: The iPad “Air” has further complicated the naming scheme, as well as potentially received a subpar internals update (Likely same ram, A7 like iPhone 5s despite pushing 333% more pixels). IPad mini got majorly bumped up in price, and everything is another $20 here in Canada. Neither iPad got Tough ID or an 8mp camera. Retina Macbook pro looks amazing though, plenty of updates and a $200 price drop. To bad I just (more than 14 days ago) got a Macbook Air. Mac Pro got a $500 price hike, and apparently doesn’t support more than 64gb or ram. Yes, I am laughing over that one too. Software wise, looking good. Free Mavericks for everyone! It rocks. ILife and iWorks free with new devices only. :( So, what makes it a great update for you?

    Also, woot woot! What did they say?

    1. I think the only disappointing news from Tuesday’s event was the price of the Mac Pro. $3000 is way out of my budget. The Mac Mini has enough power for many computer tasks, but I’m surprised that they didn’t update it yet. Right now, I’m trying the new dictation feature in Mavericks. I’m using it to type this message. It’s pretty good! With 10.9 you can download the enhanced dictation files. The continuous dictation is pretty neat. Although, I still need the keyboard to clean things up.

      Mavericks dictation is pretty good for typing those special characters, like 360°, •, ©, ™ and :-)

      Maybe the new dictation feature will help me write my books.

      I got an e-mail from Apple that said they’re going to send a full refund. Overall, it was a great week for Apple. I posted about it here… http://photics.com/awesome-week-for-apple/

      I was really happy to see Apple get so aggressive with their software. My copy of iWork is about four years old, but I just got a free upgrade. While Mac computers might be more expensive than Windows computers, the software and support is just so much better with a Mac.

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